Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.

How January 2021's Terrorism at the U.S. Capitol is Inextricably Linked to the Anti-Abortion Movement

Ashley Underwood, Research Associate and Rachel Wormer, Research Intern | Fact Sheets

On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, in the aftermath of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorist alert warning of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” who are fueled by false narratives and possess the ongoing ability to incite violence.

Ideological-driven hate which manifested in a violent mob at the U.S. Capitol may have been unprecedented—but it was not unfathomable in the slightest to anyone who works within the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements. Anti-abortion extremists have a track record of violence and terrorism against abortion providers and staff. So much so that even in the midst of the pandemic, anti-abortion protesters were arrested for defying official stay-at-home orders so that they could continue harassing patients and healthcare workers from the sidewalks. The social distancing enforcement and arrests led to an increase of verbal, cyber, and other harassment against abortion clinics, patients, and providers

Although some of the national anti-abortion organizations have attempted to distance themselves from the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building, the ties which bind the anti-abortion movement and domestic terrorists have weaved an irreversible web. On the surface, anti-abortion leaders claim to “decry violence in any form” but have refused to directly denounce the violence at the Capitol or acknowledge their role in fueling the fire. The regular harassment outside of abortion clinics necessitates legal intervention. Federal lawnational task forces, and local buffer zone ordinances are some of the measures that have been enacted in hopes of providing patients safe access to necessary healthcare. The terrorists who organized a coup of the U.S. Capitol building are the same individuals promulgating an anti-abortion agenda intent on stripping away access to abortion and birth control as well as the right to parent with dignity. 

Example A: The Susan B. Anthony List’s PAC was a top contributor to Missouri Senator Josh Hawley’s 2018 campaign. Hawley led the efforts at the Senate to overturn the 2020 Presidential election and was photographed gesturing support to the riotous crowds which morphed into a coup at the U.S. Capitol building. Even after the mob attack, Hawley did not take responsibility for his role. 

Example B: Anti-abortion spokesperson Abby Johnson spoke at the coup’s prelude, March to Save America rally. Johnson publicly thanked its extremist organizer Ali Alexander, who also led the Stop the Steal movement. A movement which Johnson has wholly endorsed through her active promotion of unfounded election fraud theories, attendance at rallies organized around baseless claims of election fraud, and her attendance at other “Stop the Steal” rallies. Prior to the event Alexander expressed calls for violence in messages posted to Parler; a social media site that has since been banned due to its use as an organizing tool for far-right right extremists. Following the coup, Johnson tweeted her account handles for Gab, Parler, and MeWe, notifying her followers that she would be sharing content on websites favored by far-right extremists, mass murderers, and white supremacists. 

Example C: John Brockhoeft, convicted of burning an Ohio Planned Parenthood clinic and planning to bomb an abortion clinic in Florida, live-streamed from his Facebook account as he attended the January 6th disruption of democracy. 

Example D: Father Frank Pavone, leader of Priests for Life, tweeted support for former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. He also emphasized his disapproval of Senate Democrats was not mere disagreement but war in a tweet that has since been deleted. Inciteful messages are very on-brand for Priests for Life, which has publicly advocated for “guerilla warfare” tactics and other forms of violence, including murder, against abortion providers. 

The anti-abortion movement is notorious for propagating dangerous, false narratives about abortion access, birth control, the right to parent with dignity, and a myriad of other human rights. The above examples are just a slight insight into the ties between the anti-abortion movement and domestic terrorism. The two forms of homegrown, domestic terrorism are inextricably linked. 


‹ Back To Fact Sheets